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Psalm 60:4

Psalm 60:4
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Psalm 60:4-5, “You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer us!”

I read these verses again today and was reminded of a journal entry from back in January 2017. It explains the thinking behind today’s picture. In the section that follows, note the “banner” in Psalm 60:4 is a translation of the Hebrew word “נס”:

Exodus 17:15, “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, ‘YHWH Is My Banner (נס)”

Directly following the striking of the Rock and the raising up of Moses’ hands and staff (both, in my opinion, images of the cross), we now get an ALTAR called YHWH is my Banner/Signal/נס.

Numbers 21:8, “And YHWH said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole (Banner/Signal/נס), and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”

Awesome! The first use of נס in scripture calls YHWH the נס, and now YHWH Himself–who is overseeing all of scripture–sets a poisonous serpent on the נס (so that, it becomes the “banner”) and causes it to be lifted up in the sight of all the people….

Isaiah 11:10, “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal (נס) for the peoples–of him shall the nations inquire…

Now the Messiah is the נס and we are told that the nations will inquire of him. I believe John is alluding to this in John 12:20-21,32

Isaiah 5:26/11:12, “He will raise a signal (נס) for the nations far away…” / “He will raise a signal (נס) for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Now the נס–which has canonically been associated with YHWH, the Serpent, and the Messiah–is raised up (another concept that John applies to the cross) as a signal to the nations that all of God’s people might be gathered in. John refers to this concept, I believe, not only in John 12:32, but also rather specifically in 11:51-52.

GLord to God! YHWH Himself is the Banner/Signal in Exodus 17:15, and now the Serpent is the Banner/Signal…..why is this beautiful? Because Isaiah will pick up the language of Banner and call the Messiah the Banner (11:10) who must be raised up (11:12) to gather the nations to Himself. And then John unites all of these images in Christ as YHWH incarnate (John1:1,1:14) who must be raised up as the serpent (John 3:14-15), and who–in being raised up–draws all nations to Himself (John 11:51-52, 12:32)! Glory to God!

It is just beautiful to see these things standing forth from scripture……they are not being pressed down on the text, but rising up from it. YHWH is the signal raised who unites and works victory for His people (Ex.17:15, Psalm 60:4). The Serpent is the signal raised, imaging the curse of the people and achieving their healing (Num. 21:8). The Messiah is the signal who unites the nations (Is.11:10) and who is lifted up to gather all of God’s people (Is.11:12). And–uniting all of these in Himself–Jesus the Messiah, YHWH incarnate, is lifted up as the curse-bearing serpent before the eyes of all nations as the signal in whom God’s people gather and are united (John 3:14-15, 11:51-52, 12:32,17:11) and the one upon whom to look is to truly Live (John 1:12-13,18 14:9, 17:3). Absolutely glorious!

And this is how we know our God! This is how and where we know the Maker of the Universe! This is not some exercise in literary criticism or poetics–not merely–it is knowing the Living God….it is knowing His heart and character, His purposes, His plans, His ways and so know Him…….THIS is how God Almighty has made Himself known to us……He–from the very beginning–He is the one who pours Himself out for the sake of His freely and graciously loved people…..He is our Provider, our Victor, our Healer, our Unifier, our Head, our Life. Glory to our God! Our God whom we know in His Son, the one lifted up on the cross for us and lifted up from the grave for us, glory to His Almighty Name!